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Fast eaters may be at risk of weight gain and heart disease

fast eaters

Fast eaters may be at an increased risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, according to a Japanese study.

This is because fast eaters may experience fluctuations in their blood sugar, leading to insulin resistance.

The study, presented at the AHA’s (American Heart Association) Scientific Sessions 2017, suggest eating too fast may put you in risk of developing metabolic syndrome – a combination of disorders that heighten a person’s risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Metabolic syndrome happens when someone has any of the 3 risk factors from the collection of high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, large waistline, high triglycerides and low LDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol).

The lead author of the study is Dr. Takayuki Yamaji – a cardiologist at Japan’s Hiroshima University.

fast eaters

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National Institutes of Health (NIH) warn than an increasing number of people are developing metabolic syndrome due to obesity rates going up. An estimated 34% of the adults in the United States are suffering from metabolic syndrome.

NIH caution that in the future metabolic syndrome may surpass smoking as the primary risk factor for heart disease.

Depending on the location, prevalence of metabolic syndrome worldwide is anywhere between 10 to 84 percent.

fast eaters

For this study, Dr. Yamaji and colleagues examined over 1,000 participants for 5 years, focusing on the association between eating pace and the incidence of metabolic syndrome. Among the participants, 642 were male and the average age of all participants was a little over 51 years.

At the study onset, in 2008, none of the participants had any sign of metabolic syndrome. They were followed for over 5 years.

The adults provided information on their eating habit, physical activity, lifestyle, and medical history via a self-administered questionnaire.

For the study purposes, it was considered as “weight gain” if the subjects had gained at least ten kilos since the age of 20.

The researchers also divided the participants into 3 groups, based on the speed of their eating – slow eaters, regular eaters, and fast eaters.

Fast eaters more likely to develop metabolic syndrome

Over the follow-up period of 5 years, 84 participants developed metabolic syndrome. Altogether, fast eating was attributed to significant weight gain, excessive blood sugar, higher levels of “bad cholesterol,” also known as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), and a bigger waist line.

Compared with the people who ate at normal speeds, fast eaters had twice the chance of developing metabolic syndrome.

To be more specific, the odds of fast eaters developing the risk factors for metabolic syndrome was 11.6% compared with 6.5% for normal eaters. Concurrently, slow eating contributed to only 2.3% chance of having metabolic syndrome.

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fast eaters

Eating pace was linked with obesity and developing metabolic syndrome in the future. Therefore, slow eating could be a key lifestyle factor for preventing the condition among the Japanese, wrote the authors.

Dr. Yamaji says folks are more likely to overeat when they eat fast, because fast eaters tend not to feel full. He also says that fast eating causes higher glucose fluctuation, which can trigger insulin resistance. This study, he believes, would also apply to the American population.

American Heart Association (AHA) suggests healthy eating and healthy lifestyle in order to maintain a healthy body and fight against heart disease.

Findings of this study were presented at the AHA’s Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017.

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.